After more than three hours of deliberating and some last-minute revisions, Augusta’s ad hoc redistricting committee succeeded Tuesday in approving a map of redrawn Augusta Commission and Richmond County school board district lines based on 2010 census data.
The 12-member committee voted unanimously on school board member Marion Barnes’ motion to adopt the map, a modification of the committee’s Plan 3 that lowered the minority population in District 6 to 60.6 percent.
The earlier version of Plan 3 left District 6 – represented by school board member Jack Padgett Jr. and term-limited Augusta Commissioner Joe Jackson, both white – with a minority percentage of nearly 70 percent.
After more than two hours spent questioning consultant Linda Meggers and Richmond County Elections Executive Director Lynn Bailey about the implications and possibilities of the choices before them, the committee recessed while Meggers made some final tweaks using redistricting software.
The tweaks were on a motion made by Sen. Hardie Davis, D-Gracewood, which passed unanimously, to decrease Plan 3’s minority percentage in District 6 to between 55 percent and 58 percent.
After the recess, Meggers emerged with a plan she said was the best that could be accomplished. Bailey said it created only one split voting precinct.
Commissioner Alvin Mason, the chairman of the redistricting committee, congratulated the panel for its work, which now goes before the commission, school board and Augusta legislative delegation for approval. Once approved by the legislature and signed by the governor, the plan must win approval from the U.S. Department of Justice.